Denver Cop Fired for Driving Personal Car 143 MPH While Drunk — Thoughts on Speeding

I guess this happened quite a while back but it’s in the news now because he’s trying to get his job back. Saying he was drunk might be an overstatement. BAC was .089, but that’s drunk only if you ignore that the legal limit is the result of politics and not science. Many people are impaired very little or maybe not at all at that level of alcohol in their blood. Plus, the method of determining blood alcohol content from breath alcohol content doesn’t take into account differences between individuals and other factors, so while he was legally drunk, he may not have been drunk in fact.

But 143 mph is darn fast. I know the road well that he was on. The speed limit is 55 mph and there are several cross streets controlled by stop signs and traffic lights. The speed limit drops to 45 mph about 500 feet from each intersection. At 143 mph a vehicle covers 230 feet per second.

One online stopping distance calculator I found predicted that it takes 854 feet to stop at that speed, all things being normal. If alcohol slowed this guy’s reaction time by one-half second the distance could be another 120 feet or about 970 feet needed to stop, and that would be a panic stop. Due to the possibility of cross traffic a real nasty crash could have occurred that night. Apparently it was late at night when he was caught by the state patrol, after passing a state patrolmen! If I might be slightly over the speed limit I never roar up behind another vehicle for the very reason that you can’t tell who or what it is until you are right on it. To do that when you’ve been drinking and running 88 miles over the speed limit seems to be deserving of the reckless driving charge he got in addition to the DUI.

I must say that speeds over 120 mph are quite a sensation. I’ve never done anything like that in a car, but I did once years ago on my BMW K1200RS motorcycle. That was not on a public highway but on a race track. Whooeee, it was fun. Trouble is, you can’t maintain it very long because no race track is long enough. At least not the one I was on. You could reach a speed of 140 mph and hold it for about 2 seconds before you have to brake hard for the next turn.

I’ve always thought that the one good reason for becoming a cop is to be able to legally drive fast and shoot bad guys, but this cop took it a bit too far.

Postscript:  You have to be almost my age to remember the one year in the past when enterprising speeders could get away clean.  That was when the first good radar detector came available, the Escort.  Police radar was not yet capable of the “instant on” function they all have nowadays.  That came into being about a year after the Escort Radar Detector hit the market.  K band radar was also not in use at the time, all police radar was X band, which is a stronger signal that travels farther.  Thus, an Escort radar detector offered near absolute protection.  One could sail along at a safe speed that might just happen to be above the posted limit* and get plenty of warning before coming within range of a police car with its radar on.  But within about a year the “instant on” feature became ubiquitous in police cars and speeding became risky again.  I was glad to have that one year, I made some long trips across Wyoming in pretty good time.  What a joy it was too, to get ample warning of the cop around the curve or over the hill, slow down to the  completely unreasonable speed limit, wave a friendly greeting to the nice officer, and stomp on the gas again as soon as I was out of range.  Oh well, now I’m an old guy and I drive slow like most old guys.  Drives Mrs. TeeJaw crazy.

*National 55 mph speed limit, remember that?  It created a nation of speeders and the radar detector industry was born.

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